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Notre Dame Is Still Undefeated: Clemson Preview

 

Before we get into the meat of this blog, I want to say something nice about Clemson. Their pregame traditions are maybe the best in the country. The entire stadium is an electric bright orange ready to explode. I’m a sucker for lucky charms in college football. Whether it’s “Giving Your All For Tennessee”, “Play Like A Champion Today”, or Michigan’s GO BLUE banner. If your team touches something before the game, in my head that’s worth at least a field goal. Howard’s Rock definitely falls into that category. Knowing what I know now, if I had to go through the college selection process again I think Clemson would be at the top of the list. Warm weather, pretty southern girls, and BIG time college football. Doesn’t get any better than that. The hype for this game is huge and I can’t wait to watch the pregame festivities.

Now to the game itself.

 

DeShaun Watson STINKS: This is like the biggest secret in all of college football. Watson was getting some preseason Heisman hype and some people had Clemson in the Playoff on the strength of Watson’s right arm. Well let me clue everyone in on something…all this hype is based on like 6 quarters of work.

Watson stats

A relief appearance last year against Florida State where Clemson lost(more on this later) even though Jameis Winston didn’t play because he did something stupid. I can’t remember what it was, but it did produce one of my favorite moments of the season.

Jameis

The other game was against UNC where he threw for about a thousand yards and 6 TDs. That’s it. The rest of his games he was either hurt or looked pretty pedestrian. He can run, but he’s not a really a true dual threat guy. He averages 3.6 yards per carry for his career and his longest run ever is for 17 yards. He’s an efficient passer, but not a guy that wows you. Watson is just solid. Which isn’t bad, but people talk about him like he’s some kind of super star when he’s not. More bad news for Watson…this is the best defense he has ever faced. As we have seen all year, Notre Dame has impact players at every level. Day and Rochelle will be moving him off of his spot all day, Russell will be taking away his side of the field, and Jaylon Smith will be lining up everywhere to give Watson nightmares. I was actually more impressed with Clemson’s running game against Louisville than anything Watson did. I think ND will be in attack mode from the opening whistle. Blitzes from everywhere. Make a young QB and a O-line that has their 2-deep filled with Freshmen and sophomore pick up the athletes on ND.

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Notre Dame Is Simply More Talented: Take it away Todd McShay

McShay on ND-Clemson

The top 10 draft eligible players in this game are all on Notre Dame. Now, that’s not to say that Clemson doesn’t have talent. It’s just that their three best players are sophomores. So talent edge goes to ND. Experience edge, also goes to ND.

Key Matchups:

Will Fuller vs Mackensie Alexander

Best against best. Will Fuller should be an All-American if he keeps this pace off. Some people are calling him the best WR in the country. He has elite speed, hands, and is a great route runner. The only thing missing is dominant size. Alexander is one of the premier college corners in the entire country. Only a sophomore, otherwise he would’ve made McShay’s top 10 list I highlighted above. The strength of Clemson’s team is their secondary. It’ll be interesting to see how much help they give Alexander over the top. They might just trust him to go one-on-one and use the extra defender in the box.

Notre Dame Defensive Front vs Clemson O-Line

This is where ND wins the game. I don’t think Clemson will be able to move the ball against the Irish with any regularity. Clemson’s starting center is out with a knee injury, their starting RT is nursing an injury sustained against Louisville, and their starting LT is a true freshman. Sheldon Day, Isaac Rochell, and the ND Linebackers should be able to dominate this matchup and force Watson into 3rd and long all day.

 

Clemson In Big Games: Close your eyes and think about the last time Clemson won a big home game at night. I’ll wait. Ok, I can’t wait forever. It’s never happened. I mean yeah I guess they beat Georgia in 2013, but they went on to lose to FSU 51-14. They went 5 years in a row without beating Spurrier. WVU hung 70 on them in a Bowl game. They’ve lost to FSU 27 years in a row(*note this is an unofficial stat, but it feels true so it might as well be). This is a HUGE game for Clemson. Gameday is there, the Dixie Tour is there, and Dabo said that he wouldn’t have been able to get Jesus Christ a ticket(as if Jesus would go to Dabo for ticket hook ups before ND). Notre Dame plays games like this all the time. They won’t crumble under the pressure.

 

Final Analysis: This game opened as a pick em, but has moved to Clemson -1.5. I LOVE Notre Dame in this game. I honestly don’t even think it will be that close. Notre Dame’s offense has been great all year. They’re a big play machine. 7 TDs of over 50 yards. The Irish should be able to win in the trenches on both sides of the ball and they will hit enough homerun plays to stick a dagger into Memorial Stadium. I hope the tailgates and the pregame stuff is fun for Clemson fans, because the game itself probably won’t be. Even Hurricane Joaquin could help the Irish. Take the crowd out of it and force the game to be won on the ground. Notre Dame 31 Clemson 17